Chennai: The Madras High Court, in its firm belief that 150 MBBS students at defunct Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Medical Sciences (PRIMS) should get justice; has now passed an interim order directing state government to submit a fresh proposal within two weeks, to the Board of Governors in Supersession of Medical Council of India (MCI) on how to accommodate these students.
The directive by the division bench comprising Honourable Justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam; came in view of an appeal filed by the state government, challenging an earlier order of a single judge, directing the state to accommodate the MBBS students of PRIMS in 22 government medical colleges in Tamil Nadu.
The decision of shifting these MBBS students was taken by the state government after noting the lack of facilities for clinical practice and lab studies at the newly founded medical institute, PRIMS.
The students had requested the authorities to shift them to the state-run medical colleges contending that there is a chance that the private medical colleges may face a similar condition as PRIMS and if they get accommodated there, their studies might suffer again.
Medical Dialogues had extensively reported about the MBBS students, who moved HC seeking the transfer from PRIMS. According to these students, who were admitted in the first year MBBS course during 2016-17 under the government and management quota after passing NEET, the medical college was started from the 2016-17 academic year after obtaining approval from the state and central governments and MCI.
It was mentioned before the court that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare debarred the college from making MBBS admissions for 2017-18 and 2018-19 as it had failed to rectify the ‘deficiencies’ pointed out by the MCI earlier.
In view of that, the state government informed the court that on 3rd October, the Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan had written a letter to the Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary Preeti Sudan seeking its concurrence for shifting 150 second year MBBS students of PRIMS to the other self-financing medical colleges, since the GMCs were already overloaded.
On this, the HC had directed the state government to apprise the Centre as well as MCI of the vacant seats available in different private colleges and how the 150 MBBS students could be accommodated over there.
The counsel for the students in court, however, demanded that all the MBBS students have to be accommodated only in GMCs since there is an apprehension that some of the private medical colleges may also face the same problem like PRIMS in future and the students will be in trouble.
Throughout all the hearing sessions, the state reiterated its submission that it was not possible to accommodate the present 150 MBBS students in GMCs as in compliance with the earlier HC order, the government had shifted about 144 students of Anna Malai Medical College and Hospital to various government colleges last year only.
While abiding by the HC’s earlier order, the state informed that it had taken consent from the MCI for its decision of transferring the MBBS students to private medical institutes and has received its approval for the same.
Later, the HC directed the state government to inform the court as to whether it could accommodate the students in the Junior Batch of 2nd-year students studying in GMCs as the students had already lost a few months of their studies.
Although it was contended that there were no vacancies in GMCs, but Justice T Raja in the December 13th, 2018 directed the state government to obtain necessary approvals for increasing the number of seats from the authorities concerned and then accommodate the MBBS students by spreading them out to various government colleges.
PRIMS was directed to return all the original certificates to the students forthwith.
Further, the bench directed MCI to encash the bank guarantee furnished by PRIMS and give the same to the state to enable it to provide sufficient infrastructure facilities and appoint faculty members.
In response to this order, the state moved the division bench of the Madras HC. During the recent hearing session, the HC noted that no counter affidavit has been filed by MCI in the said writ petitions explaining their stand as to the increase in intake of the students both in Government as well as Private Medical Colleges which, may or may not, lack sufficient infrastructural facilities to accommodate more/excess students.
The HC was of the considered view that a positive direction has been given to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Department, to pass necessary orders increasing the number of seats in Government Medical Colleges and approve the accommodation of students studying in PRIMS Medical College in 22 Government Colleges functioning in the State of Tamil Nadu based on the decision of the Board of Governors in Supersession of Medical Council of India. The court, however, noted that given the framework under which MCI works, there cannot be any positive direction, directing the said authorities to act in a particular manner
“The Indian Medical Council Act and Rules and Regulations framed therein, enable the Medical Council of India as well as the concerned Ministry to act on the proposal in terms of such statutory provisions and therefore, this Court is of the prima facie view that there cannot be any positive direction, directing the said authorities to act in a particular manner. However, taking into consideration the plight of the writ petitioners/students of PRIMS and for no fault on their part as to the misery being undergone by them on account of the fact that PRIMS Medical College is no longer functioning on account of lack of infrastructural facilities, this Court is of the considered view that issuance of the following ad-interim directions, would meet the ends of justice.”
Sympathetic to the plight of the medicos, the following ad-interim directions were issued by the HC:
[a] In terms of Paragraph No.27  of the impugned order, the State Government shall submit a fresh proposal to the Board of Governors in Supersession of Medical Council of India, for the purpose of accommodating the writ petitioners/students of PRIMS Medical College in 22 Government Medical Colleges in the State of Tamil Nadu, within a period of two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this interim order ;
[b] The Board of Governors in Supersession of Medical Council of India, on receipt of such proposal from the State of Tamil Nadu, shall consider the said proposal on merits and in accordance with the relevant Rules and Regulations of the Indian Medical Council Act and forward the same to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of India, within a further period of two weeks thereafter;
[c] The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Government of India/1st respondent in the writ petitions, on receipt of the said proposal from the Board of Governors, shall consider the same on merits and in accordance with law and pass appropriate orders within a further period of two weeks from the date of receipt of the proposal from the Board of Governors and the decision taken in that regard by the said Ministry, shall be kept in a sealed cover and to be produced before this Court on 28.03.2019.